Mini-Science 2014 Q&A: “What we learn and when we learn it: sensitive periods for musical training”

Mini-Science logoAt the conclusion of each Mini-Science lecture, audience members submit their questions to the evening’s presenter. If there is not enough time to answer them all on the spot, some of the other unanswered questions are sent to the presenter for posting here. Here are questions from Dr. Virginia Penhune’s lecture, “What we learn and when we learn it: sensitive periods for musical training” (March 5, 2014).

Q: Is there any evidence that gender and/or social class are relevant variables in your research on sensitive periods for musical training?

A: We have never found any differences in our groups related to gender. In terms of social class, it is obviously relevant because in our society access to music training is largely dependent on means.

Q: Have you studied, or do you know of studies, that look at the variation in musical creativity and composition versus early-trained and late-trained?

A: There are no studies of composition in early- and late-trained musicians. This is an interesting topic and perhaps someone will follow-up on it.

Q: Is it recommended for babies (2-3 years old) to learn several languages at a time (especially when the parents speak different languages).

Q: Is one and the same parent allowed to speak to his/her baby in two languages? Isn’t it too confusing for the child?

A for both questions: I am not a bilingualism researcher, but most work suggests that there is no harm for babies in learning multiple languages and that they benefit from better fluency as adults.

Please visit the Mini-Science website for more information about the lecture series.

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